Five minutes with our 2024 Scholar, Scott Crowe

What brought you to the UK? How did you end up pursuing a career in hospitality?

I left home at 19 to pursue my first passion: football. I studied and played in New York for a little over a year before deciding to go and visit family in Scotland for a short two-week holiday during the off season. That two-week holiday is now five years in. It was a quick decision to stay in the UK, I was excited about the traveling opportunities that are so easily accessible in Europe. I feel it is quite common to start working in hospitality while traveling, my thinking was, ‘if I can pull a pint, I can work anywhere in the world’. Pubs turned to restaurants, restaurants turned to hotels, hotels led me to fine dining, and hospitality became my passion.

What attracted you to the Balmoral?

I guess my sporting competitiveness has never left me as through my career I have always wanted to aim higher and higher while surrounding myself with like-minded people. That’s how I ended up at the Balmoral. At the time Scotland’s only Forbes five-star Hotel, Alain Roux’s name was on the window of the Brasserie. How could you miss the opportunity to be part of such an iconic establishment?

How did you feel about being named as the 2024 Scholar?

It’s an incredible honour. You feel proud at any stage of this competition. From the application to the awards ceremony at Claridge’s, the journey surrounds you with some really fantastic people. It’s an achievement I spent two years focusing on, from my first attempt in 2023, when Jupiter was named the Scholar, then rounding off my skills further during the AAE (which I am also very proud of). It feels great to have set my mind to something, persevered, not giving up and applying again. When that is recognised and rewarded it’s a very special thing. I am truly grateful for all the Scholarship has provided for me so far and the family I am now a part of.

What does great front of house service mean to you?

Great front of house service for me comes from your passion and enjoyment for what you do. It is very clear to see when someone is enjoying what they are doing and their efforts in making their guests feel special. It’s about exceeding expectations, understanding what your guests’ needs are. Listening for the ‘golden nuggets’ of information that you can use to spark a connection, a conversion, or make someone’s day even more special, and then putting that information into action. Will Guidara’s service principles in his book Unreasonable Hospitality are something I’m sure we all stand by.

Why did you enter the Gold Service Scholarship?

I entered to challenge myself as well as to see where I was compared to people my age working in London. I came across the competition while scrolling the internet for opportunities around Europe. I was thrilled to have found an organisation that focused on front house service. During my interview process for Number One restaurant at the Balmoral, I mentioned that part of my reason for joining the team was to prepare myself for this competition. I really believe what I learnt there set me up for where I am today.

I first entered the competition in 2023 and reached the semi-finals. I remember seeing the eight winning finalists announced that year and being happy for them all. They all deserved it. That also made me hungry to be there the next year and go one step further.

Which of your prizes are you particularly excited about? What do you hope to learn?

The prizes on offer are those of any hospitality lover’s bucket list. Porto has been on mine for a few years now since my love for cheese and Port grew. I think that is what I am most looking forward to. The stages on offer are all establishments at the top of their league, having the opportunity to see behind the scenes of some of the world’s best restaurants is exciting, learning from legends and icons of the industry is something I will cherish. I wouldn’t be able to answer this question without mentioning the royal garden party experience and EHL trip as well.

What would you say to someone thinking of entering the competition?

My advice would be to simply enjoy it. An opportunity like this doesn’t exist anywhere else in the world, think how lucky you are to be surrounded by like-minded people all with the same goal as you, as well as industry icons who you are able to network with and be mentored by. Be sure to relax and be confident in yourself. Don’t overthink the basics. And most importantly be yourself.

What are your career aspirations?

For now, I am enjoying the journey of learning and fine tuning my craft. I don’t feel rushed to chase down job titles. I feel you can make an impact on a business at any rung of the career ladder. I know that through enjoying my job and staying consistent I will end up where I need to be, which I hope one day will be a place of my own. It was a family tradition of ours growing up for grandad to take us out to dinner on a Sunday night. I would love to create a neighbourhood restaurant that encourages families to get together for special occasions and friends to catch up. A place with a casual atmosphere and quality food and service.

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